THE BIG QUESTIONS
WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSIONAL TITLE?
Head of Sales and Marketing
WHAT DO YOU DO ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS?
I am the head of After Build’s Sales and Marketing strategy and delivery. On a daily basis, I devise and implement our marketing programmes through my team to reach out to a national community of house builders. I am involved in the final negotiations, contract procurement and am responsible for meeting the company’s new business targets totalling an expected £150,000 per annum.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO DO WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD AND WHAT CHANGED?
I wanted to be a doctor and I tried a couple of times as a post graduate to apply for medical school. I knew a girl who was doing the same thing and doing a much better job than I was. She was a very different person to me and had a very different attitude toward medicine. It made me realise I wasn’t suited to the profession and I decided to let it go and find out what I was good at instead.
WHAT ACADEMIC QUALIFICATIONS DO YOU HAVE?
I have the usual school and then a 2:1 in Medical Anthropology BSc. I also have a qualification from the Institute of Leadership and Management for Leadership in Action.
WHAT’S THE BEST CAREER ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?
If you and a company, or you and a boss, are struggling to make it work, then stop. Ultimately one of you will have to bend or break or go and it’s usually you. If you cannot face this, it’s time to move on.
WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL AND WHY?
I have a few. The women in my family, spearheaded by my mother were always fierce career women and fierce family women too. They taught me you can have it all. I have a great friend (another mover and shaker) who is a company director, always beautifully turned out and one of the most generously spirited people I’ve ever met. I’m proud to take inspiration from her. I’m also very fond of that quote… “You have as many hours in the day as Beyonce.”
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR CURRENT WORKING ENVIRONMENT?
We’re a small company and sometimes times are hard. The everyday struggles of working at the top tier of a brand who don’t have the kind of resource you’d desperately hope for has sharpened my business mind. Additionally, because we don’t have the bureaucracy that can hinder, we’re agile, fluid and dynamic in our decision making and implementation. It’s exciting.
WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE ABOUT YOUR DAILY WORK ROUTINE IF YOU COULD?
Because of my industry (construction and property), I don’t see as many young people or as many women in decision making positions as I would like. I think sometimes, I startle people when we meet because they’re not expecting someone like me with my background.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF PROFESSIONALLY IN FIVE YEARS’ TIME?
I love my job title and would like to retain that to get a little more experience. But I think I’d like to be working in a larger environment with a broader focus. I’d like to travel as much as I do, if not more and I’d like to be managing a strong and developing team.
DO YOU FEEL YOU CAN BE THE SAME PERSON AT WORK AND IN PRIVATE?
I sometimes feel this way. My dad who is the wisest person I know tells me often that work is not about the private life, it’s not about you. It’s an agreement that you make in exchange for money and not a right. That being said, I think that what I do at the moment, requires a fair bit of my personality and it’s a trait I’m happy to share openly. Some days you have to leave yourself at the door and some, you have to show up completely. You just have to know which days are which.
WHERE AND IN WHAT ROLES ARE WOMEN IN THE LEADERSHIP STRUCTURE AT YOUR COMPANY?
Leadership roles are a little scarce in my SME. If you look at, for example, those who attend the monthly management meeting, it’s just me against three other men. However, I’m happy to report that 100% of all promotions over the last 4 years have gone to women.
DOES DIVERSITY MATTER TO YOU?
Absolutely. I grew up in London and then moved to Brighton after my days at University so I’ve always been in the throes of a diverse culture. Now I work in an industry which employs untold droves of immigrants but has a distaste for them. I see a trickle of women in classically “female” positions and come up against casual sexism in the workplace more times than I can count. I think diversity’s about practical implementation of fair and consistent principles. It’s not about rules or someone taking offence every five minutes. It’s about a mind-set that allows for those different to you being every bit as capable, if not more so, than you might be.
HOW GOOD IS YOUR WORK LIFE BALANCE?
Excellent I’d say, although I have no children to challenge this yet. My husband and I are both ambitious people and we make work a priority but know how to switch off at the end of the day.
WHAT QUALITIES DOES BEING IN YOUR ROLE NECESSITATE?
I think problem solving has to be at the top of any professional’s list of essential qualities. Work is about problems, of every type, every day and for me, it’s a matter of, we have to achieve the budgeted income. How are we going to do that? You take that big problem and you break it down into a series of smaller, solvable problems until you’re left with a pile of tasks that you can do alone or with your team’s help. You have to be a great communicator. Sometimes, in high financial sales environments, you’ve got to know exactly the right thing to say in the right second to make the situation flow or change course. Finally, I think you’ve got to have a bit of personality about you. Sometimes, the products and services that the construction industry need to buy, are a bit boring or at least, not memorable. So you have to be memorable. You have to be well turned out, confident and animated. Interested in them and interesting to them.
ANY FINAL COMMENTS?
I’m gutted I didn’t know about this campaign before. I came across it while researching a “Ladies who…” slogan. I’m starting a monthly meeting/networking event for Women in Construction. Just women I’ve met along the way who may be able to get to know each other and remember each other later on down the line. Happy to see good work going on all over!